"We have to prove for everyone that the government is national and it is going forward with major steps to achieve security and to achieve its political program," al-Bolani told al-Iraqiyah television.

Al-Dhari is the top leader for Iraq's Sunni minority, and the move against him was certain to further inflame the sectarian killing that is ravaging Baghdad and central Iraq.

 

The call for al-Dhari's arrest came two days after Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president, called him a hard-liner with "nothing to do but incite sectarian and ethnic sedition."

 

Al-Dhari is believed to be in Jordan.

 

The Interior Ministry said it was considering asking international police authorities to pick him up.

 
Sunni response
 

Mohammed Bashar al-Faidi, spokesperson for the Sunni association, condemned the warrant for al-Dhari's arrest.

 

"This government should resign before the Iraqi people force it to resign"

Mohammed Bashar al-Faidi, Sunni association spokesman

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"I don't know how to describe it, but it represents the bankruptcy of the sectarian government following one scandal after another," he told Al-Jazeera television.

 

Al-Faidi accused the interior minister "of supporting terrorism by covering for [Shia] militias that are killing the Iraqi people".

 

He said the al-Maliki government is targeting "the national symbols that are defending Iraq and the Iraqi people".

 

"This government should resign before the Iraqi people force it to resign," al-Faidi said.

 

Al-Faidi belittled the Iraqi government, saying its decisions "are worthless because it only rules the Green Zone" - a reference to the heavily guarded area in central Baghdad that houses the US and British embassies as well as the offices of the Iraqi president and prime minister.

 

Echoing the criticism, the Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest Sunni political group, said it "condemns and is surprised by the interior ministry's decision," according to Baghdad Television, which is run by the party.

 

Al-Faidi, speaking from Jordan, said he spoke to al-Dhari after the arrest warrant was issued and that al-Dhari was not surprised with the statement.

 

Earlier this year, the association blamed the interior ministry for the killing of a nephew and cousin of al-Dhari. Their bodies were found in a bullet-riddled vehicle in west Baghdad.